This Saturday night, at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, boxing fans will be in for yet another great night of boxing when Brooklyn's own son Zab Judah squares off with Philadelphia's Danny Garcia in a 140-pound title bout. Below is the information you, the fight fan, should know as the keys to victory for each are laid out.
First up will be the breakdown of Greg Row, followed by the breakdown of Michael Samuels.
DEFENSE: No question the better defensive fighter in this fight is Zab Judah. Judah possesses a skill set that very few in boxing can top. Zab uses his feet and upper body very well to avoid shots. He will need to do that in this fight to avoid another career setback. Garcia is a straight forward, straight up and down fighter. He does not use his legs very well and holds his gloves in front of his face in an ABC manner. Danny will need to be a bit more spontaneous and creative with his defense in this fight to avoid the upset.
EXPERIENCE: Experience is another clear-cut victory in this fight for Judah. He has names like Mayweather, Cotto, Tszyu, Khan, Matthysse, Clottey, Spinks and Corley on his resume, while the still green Garcia has a faded former champion in Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Kendall Holt and Nate Campbell on his resume. Not bad names; just not of the caliber of Judah. Zab has been on the biggest of stages, on pay-per-view, and fought in front of bigger, more hostile crowds than Garcia has. What effect this will have on the fight is a big question mark, however. Judah has more experience with better fighters, no question.
CHIN: Danny Garcia has shown the ability to take a pretty good shot and stay upright, and keep himself level headed and still be able to concentrate on the task at hand, as was evidenced in his battle with former 140-pound champion Amir Khan. Judah, on the other hand, is known to have no beard, or a glass jaw if you prefer, which seems to get worse the longer a fight goes. This is really simple; this will come down to who can take whose shots better. If Judah can box and move, mix in his power shots and not get clipped, he will make it an easy night. Can Judah hurt Garcia, who has shown a fairly decent chin in the past? Saturday will tell the story, but at this point, the edge has to go to Garcia.
POWER: The power both fighters possess is enough to put the other down. Each possesses one-punch KO power. Judah with both hands and Garcia with really only a left hook at this point. Power will be key in this fight as I feel whoever checks the chin of their opponent first should have the advantage in this fight.
SPEED: Speed is another clear-cut advantage for Zab Judah in this fight as there are VERY few fighters in the sport that have faster hands than him. Garcia will have to adjust early in the fight to the speed of Judah, much like he had to try and do against Amir Khan, who had equal hand speed. If Khan showed us anything, it is that if you use you hand speed, especially in combination, you can have success against Garcia. The kind of speed Zab possesses can make it hard for Garcia to get off because he will spend the time Zab is throwing in covering up mode, trying not to get hit. I am in no way calling Garcia a turtle when it comes to letting his hands go, but he will not be in the same stratosphere as Judah come Saturday night. The one way to beat speed is with timing, which Garcia has shown the ability to do, but this is a clear Judah category.
FINAL VERDICT: It is easy to look at the categories above and see that they are in favor of the more experienced Judah by a margin of 3-1-1, but that does not always tell the story of the fight. This fight is one of the more simple fights in recent memory to predict because it will come down to such a simple factor, and that is Judah has a very questionable chin and Garcia can punch. If Zab Judah comes in at his best, that could all be thrown out the window, as a great Zab Judah can beat almost anyone. The problem is it has been a very long time since we have seen him be great. Garcia is nothing special, that is true, but it has been very hard in this "carefully selected" run he has been on to see any of these faded former champions do anything to combat the limited skills Garcia possesses. Up next is Zab Judah, and if Judah boxes smart, doesn't get tired, and can hurt Garcia, then he can "easily" win this fight, but if Zab cannot do any of those things and he gets caught in an exchange with Garcia, like most have, he will be stopped. Right now, history tells us that the latter of these two things is the more likely. Until Judah proves that he can fight as much with the great talent he possesses and get back to being one of the top fighters in the sport, I think you have to lean towards the younger Garcia.
GARCIA BY 8TH ROUND KO
DEFENSE: HBO analyst Max Kellerman, when asked of Zab Judah on his way up the ranks, described the Brooklynite as "the next Pernell Whitaker." I have the utmost respect for Kellerman, and while Judah has done some great things in his time as a professional and multi-division champion, he's surely nowhere near Pernell Whitaker, especially when it comes to defensive savvy. Judah's defensive mindset has always been the same. He basically comes in and tries to hit you before you hit him. He moves away from shots every now and then usually by pulling straight back and exposing his jaw but in the grand scheme of things, he's never been that difficult to hit. There's no doubt in my mind that Danny Garcia and his father know this. Judah's camp has seen footage of Garcia. They, too, must know that he's hardly a defensive wizard in his own right. I have to give Garcia the defensive advantage because while he is there to be hit, he still does a pretty good job of keeping his guard up. Judah has a big tendency to get lazy, especially as the rounds pile up. When Judah gets desperate, his defense basically goes out the window. That is not something he can afford to do against Garcia.
EXPERIENCE: There's no legitimate argument that could possibly be made to sway this category in the direction of Danny "Swift" Garcia. Boxing is rarely a sport you can look at and walk away with a black and white perspective. Experience, however, is something you can gain during certain progressions of your career, but it must be earned with time and consistency. You can't look at a guy's resume and see a bunch of solid champions and figure he must be experienced if he's lost to nearly every challenge he's faced. Zab Judah has lost his share of big fights, but he's also won a fair amount too. He's been in the ring with the unofficial Dean's list of professional prizefighters. Judah has had his fair share of critics during his career. I've ripped him a few times for decisions he's made and things he's said, but at the end of the day, you have to respect Judah's ability to constantly seek out the best guys at or around his weight class. That is rare sediment in the sport today and something that has helped Judah become very successful through a career that has spanned nearly two-decades.
Danny Garcia put himself on the map with his surprising knockout of Amir Khan and he hasn't looked back since. His two victories over the legendary yet aging Erik Morales serves as feathers in his growing cap, but they aren't the type of victories that will have people clamoring about his arrival. Garcia, with the help of his boisterous father-trainer, has shown quite a bit of improvement from years past. He is learning and growing and could prove to become a dangerous player at the super welterweight level. The Judah fight will provide him a lot of experience, especially against a crafty and quick fighter a combination he hasn't seen too much of.
CHIN: It's easy to look at Zab Judah and say he has a glass jaw. In fact, it's a phrase that has been thrown around the message boards since his crushing loss to Kostya Tszyu. I can't fault him for getting knocked out against Tszyu. For starters, Kostya was a murderous puncher, and on top of that, Judah showed his youth by immediately trying to get up to prove his manhood after getting clipped perfectly on the chin by a seasoned veteran. Before that, he was dropped by Terron Millet and went to war with Miguel Cotto, but that really doesn't lead me to believe he has as terrible a jaw as people speculate. At times, it's been shaky at best, but if I were a prizefighter, I wouldn't think having a chin like Judah's would be the worst thing in the world.
The jury is still out on Garcia's chin. He took a lot of Khan's punches rather well early en route to knocking out Freddie Roach's prized pupil. I'm willing to bet his chin is solid. We will certainly find out if Judah lands anything of substance on it.
POWER: Aside from each camp's trash talking leading into this fight, the main reason people will be tuning in on Saturday is to see both these guys unload bombs on one another. The last thing to go in an aging fighter is his power, and rest assured that Zab Judah has plenty of power left in the tank, and if we go by what he's been saying since this fight was signed, delayed, and rescheduled, the brash talking Brooklyn kid is coming for blood on Saturday night. With maturity and age, Judah has kept up on his power, but he's using it much differently now. The days of Judah just bombing a guy out with one punch have long since past. He's looking to hurt you with combinations and then finish you by overwhelming you with hard, digging shots in rapid succession. He followed his plan to perfection in his last fight against Vernon Paris, albeit Paris is hardly the fighter of Garcia's caliber. Speaking of "Swift" Danny, he, on the other hand, can get you out of there at anytime with one single shot. He is starting to develop his right hand a bit more, but still makes the bread with his left hook. Both guys are heavy-handed, but if we're talking punching power rather than punching volume, the edge has got to go to the younger man.
SPEED: Even with Father Time in the rear-view mirror, Zab Judah is still faster and quicker than anybody Danny Garcia has ever faced. Judah's speed, in terms of punching power, is still explosive in spurts. He is one of the best finishers in the sport when he decides to actively seek and destroy his opponent. Danny Garcia is deceptively fast. That's the main difference between Garcia and Judah. Danny doesn't look very quick, but he's very good with feints and has very underrated footwork. He does things with his movements that make fighters forget about that sneaky and flat out deadly left hook. And when he bangs you, he too knows how to finish you. Judah, however, is still overall much faster and quicker and it will show come fight night.
FINAL VERDICT: Zab Judah is coming to make a statement in Brooklyn on Saturday night against Danny Garcia. He must have a lot of support because he seems to always land a big fight, regardless of how horrible he performed previously. He had a great opportunity against Amir Khan and failed miserably. It wasn't just that he lost, but how he lost that put a sour taste in the mouths of many. Fighting at home in front of family and friends will do one of two things for Judah. Either it will provide him the spark he needs to pull off the upset over Garcia, or it will force him to go for the kill too early, make a lot of mistakes, and ultimately pay for those mistakes in the form of an embarrassing knockout. I have been hard on Judah for a long time. I wrote a piece on him five or six years ago basically calling him out, and little did I know, he would take so much offense to it, he would get my number, call me up, and basically tell me that my "Brooklyn pass was revoked." I squashed it though. I stand by what I said back then and I'm going to stand by my prediction for Saturday, one that has me taking Judah over Danny Garcia. I expect Judah to be much more active, and for the first time in a long time, I'm expecting him to battle through adversity when he hits a rough patch .and he will, because Danny Garcia is a very good, young fighter who is sure to touch Judah at some point during the night. Judah's live speed will frustrate the young champion enough for him to pull out a unanimous decision in front of his home fans. I expect the cards to be ridiculous, but the right man will get the win, as Judah will land enough effective blows and visibly hurt Garcia more throughout the fight, especially late. Both guys will suffer knockdowns, but Brooklyn will come through.
JUDAH BY UNANIMOUS DECISION